Updated: May 28
I was asked by a friend to take photos of her at the dungeon she works at in a beautiful tall Victorian home downtown Toronto. I was thrilled when I got the offer because I had just ran out of film to develop at the darkroom course I was taking at the University of Toronto. I left with some of the wildest photos on 35mm film the class had seen!
It was a little tough to find the house when I first arrived because the outside looks like your normal Victorian style home... Until you get past the first door. I knew right away this experience was going to be something special.
The first floor has a waiting room at the front with some large sensual darkroom prints of the owner of the dungeon all over the walls. The access to the dungeon is through a large medieval door.
The first section has a St Andrew's cross—but not your typical cross. This cross is made of solid leather, has pegs all along the sides to allow you to climb on it however you wish. Barbra explained to me that this cross can be hung on the ceiling or can be set flat down on the ground.
Beside the St Andrew's cross is an old vintage dentist chair that was covered in leather and bolts. It was modified so the armrests are adjustable and it can be lowered and twisted backwards, however you desire.
On the other side of the room sits a beautifully crafted Catherine's wheel with restraints and cuffs with a pentagram painted in the centre.
There are skulls and candles everywhere, chains and whips lined down the walls beside other accessories, such as hooks and rings.
On the other end of the dungeon, you can find a horse saddle, a large cage and a "wet room" with a bath and an adjustable swing. There's a chair covered in nails with metal cuffs (that can be modified to leather).
The second floor is where you can find the medical room, the school room, the beautiful Victorian boudoir room and the third floor is feminization room; with fancy chairs, mirrors, a ton of makeup, wigs and a collection of large sassy boots and shoes.
I returned the following weekend to (digitally) photograph Barbra and a client after a session. This client had specific requests —his strange fantasy was 'pony play'. When I got there, he was chained to a table and was told to wait patiently for me to set up my equipment to begin the shoot.
He had a long brush on his mouth that was attached to a head piece with about 20 locks keeping it tight onto his head. He was wearing custom made leather hand pieces and a mane. Barbra put a saddle on him for a few shots as she stood next to him holding his favourite whip.
The hose tail is fixed in deep with a butt plug. We also shot him in the wet room in the swing. I left with some very unusual and interesting photos to work with.
Best tips if you are thinking of doing a shoot in a dungeon for the first time:
Look for a reputable dominatrix in your area online
Message them professionally to see if you can photograph a session
Remember that to some people, this adds extra kink factor—but don't assume
Don't talk during the session unless the dominatrix talks to you
Be prepared to feel a little awkward and uncomfortable, it's normal
You'll learn a lot about... people!
Capture the Strange
Seek strange events, situations and subjects. They're creatively stimulating work environments unlike any other.